Ringgold's robot battling team not only at play
Brandon Werner and Katelynn Hill were freshmen when they joined the BotsIQ Ringgold Rammers during the 2011-12 school year.
Werner said it was a learning experience in the beginning.
“Our first year, we threw our robot together and we still did well,” Werner said.
That original team had close to 30 students.
“A lot of kids joined because they wanted to play with robots,” Werner said. “But there's a lot more work than that.”
Now seniors, Werner and Hill are co-captains of the Ringgold BotsIQ team. Junior Steve Gerba will be the captain next year.
This is the fourth year for the team, which was started by teacher Jason Mamajek during the 2011-12 school year.
In his first year at Ringgold technical education teacher Greg Shutz guides the team, attending competitions with the students and assisting them in the research and design.
Katelynn Hill's father John Hill is general manager of Pico Pascal Machine Co. in Verona. He taught the Ringgold students how to make the robots and the students made their own.
The company has since hired Werner and Katelynn Hill.
The team's robot features a beater bar that spins and is used to flip the opposition robot. The Ringgold team added a cutting edge to do more damage to the opposing robot.
The SWPA BotsIQ, held earlier this month at Westmoreland County Community College near Youngwood, serves as a regional competition, where high school teams are ranked.
The team will next compete at California University of Pennsylvania April 24-25 in a double-elimination tournament. The top team wins a $1,000 prize to help fund their trip to the nationals. The Ringgold Rammers competed at the National Robotics League Competition for the first time in 2014. They will be returning to the competition again May 15-16.
At the national competition, college and technical students as well as high school students compete. Ringgold finished 13th out of close to 70 teams in 2014.
“We even beat some college teams,” Hill said.
At the national competition, judges interview students, who must prove that they did all of the research and design work. Their efforts are outlined in a 5-inch- thick binder that details all of the work involved in constructing the robot. Last year, at the National Robotics League Competition at Baldwin Wallace College in Cleveland, the Ringgold Rammers won the Best Documentation Award.
In the completion, students use remote controls to maneuver the 15-pound robots to battle each other. The goal is to disable or damage the opposing robot within a 3-minute time span. If neither is disabled during the robotic wrestling match, a group of judges decides which robot performed better.
“It gives them great experience in testing and design, and they're doing something they'll go into,” Shutz said. “Machining is a huge industry right now, and they do a lot of hands-on stuff.”
Hill and Werner said they plan to acquire their journeyman papers to continue in the machining industry.
The team also provides updates on their Facebook page Ringgold Rammers.
“I've always been interested in how things work and engineering,” Werner said. “I would always take things apart to learn how they worked.”
Gerba said when he first joined the team last year, it was a learning experience for him.
“These guys taught me a lot,” Gerba said.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.